Sockeye Salmon
(AKA red salmon)
Oncorhynchus nerka

Anglers should use three or more distinguishing characteristics to properly identify all salmon.

Marine Phase

  • Almost toothless, with numerous long gill rakers;
  • Prominent, glassy eyes;
  • Slimmest and most streamlined of the Pacific species;
  • Silver-blue;
  • Lives from four to six years;
  • Weighs between 2.2 kg and 3.1 kg but can reach 6.3 kg;
  • Young sockeye remain in fresh-water nursery lakes a year or more before migrating to the sea.

Each sockeye salmon you keep must be at least 30 cm long. 

Did you know?

Some sockeye returning to the Stuart River travel almost 1100 kilometers to their home waters. During this time they can absorb up to 96% of their fat and 56% of their protein reserves.

Photo of sockeye salmon in marine phase

Freshwater phase

  • Maturing sockeye have a distinctive silvery-purplish tinge;
  • As he becomes more mature, the male acquires a pale green head, dark hooked jaws, humped back and bright red body with red fins;
  • Female is generally the same with green and yellow blotches on the body, although the colour is less pronounced and she does not develop a hump or hooked jaw;
  • In most runs mature fish are bright scarlet.

Drawing of male and female sockeye salmon in freshwater phase

Close up photo of sockeye jaw

Sockeye Jaw

The lips of a sockeye are fleshy, the teeth are small and well-developed in both jaws. There are no teeth on the base of the tongue.

Close up photo of sockeye tail

Sockeye Tail

The sockeye's tail is moderately forked and it does not show any black spots.

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